African Development Bank Group

02/24/2023 | News release | Archived content

Relever le défi de la faible gouvernance et des flux financiers illicites pour profiter pleinement du potentiel économique des ressources naturelles de l’Afrique, soutiennent[...]

Acting ANRC director Vanessa Ushie (center) and the team at the Abidjan launch of the GONAT project

The African Development Bank has organized a workshop on harnessing Africa's abundant natural resources more effectively and to introduce its Governing Natural Resource Outflows for Enhanced Economic Resilience in Fragile and Transitional Countries (GONAT) Project.

The two-day hybrid inception and learning workshop offers wide-ranging recommendations to overcome the "curse" of resource-rich African countries that are not seeing the benefits of their resources. It is being attended by representatives of governments, the private sector, civil society and multilateral development organizations.

An initiative of the African Development Bank's African Natural Resources Management and Investment Centre, GONAT is a roughly $2.7 million initiative that will build national capacity for governing natural resource outflows by addressing resource-backed loans and the illicit natural resources trade in 6 countries over two years. The countries are: Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.

Africa has a wide range of natural endowments including its fisheries, minerals, fossil fuels and timber. These resources are seen as an increasingly important element of economic activity and source of domestic revenues, especially as African governments face fiscal constraints linked to global economic conditions.

The workshop comprised presentations by experts and panel discussions to explore specific challenges.

In her opening statement, Vanessa Ushie, Acting Director of the African Natural Resources Management and Investment Centre, stressed that GONAT is a direct response to the challenge of establishing good governance of Africa's natural resources. It has been designed to support transitional countries to mobilize greater natural resource rents and ensure that they can realize the full value of their natural resources.

Kathy Nicolaou-Manias of Rand Stanton Consulting Group provided some context on the resource wealth of Africa, which has 40% of the world's gold reserves and the largest deposits of cobalt, diamonds, platinum and uranium globally. Cobalt in particular is seen as increasingly valuable as a key component of the lithium ion batteries that power electric cars and smartphones.

Nicolau-Manias said the twin challenges of illicit fund flows and illicit trade siphon off considerable revenues derived from exploitation of natural resources. The former is driven by corruption and tax evasion, she said. The most highly trafficked illegal commodities in Africa are petroleum, precious minerals and ores.

Nafi Chinery, Africa Acting Director of the Natural Resource Governance Institute said that a multipronged approach is necessary to address governance issues in the resource sector. In addition to making extractive-sector contracts public she said local communities in affected areas should be included in the process of resource exploitation.

She also warned that a rapid energy transition would hurt demand for African petroleum, causing oil revenue in Nigeria, Angola and other countries to fall by as much as 70%.

Nassim Bennani, Francophone Africa regional director with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, said efforts to strengthen governance and tapping of resources must be driven by data.

Abdoulaye Coulibaly, African Development Bank Director for Governance and Economic Reforms, cited the bank's Strategy for Economic Governance in Africa, released in 2021, as a vital tool for strengthening governance.

Umair Shahid, Indian Ocean Tuna Manager at World Wildlife Fund Mozambique, said more should be done to engage the youth in efforts to sustainably exploit resources, including, incorporating the issue into school curricula. He also cited indigenous knowledge and south-south cooperation as useful.

African Development Bank country managers in the six GONAT countries closed the first day by providing an overview of the country's efforts to sustainably exploit resources. Central African Republic country manager Mamady Souare commended the African Legal Support Facility for its support in updating the country's mining code.

GONAT has three components: policy analysis and diagnostics; capacity building and country support; and Policy Dialogue and Knowledge Exchange. Under the first component, the GONAT team will produce diagnostic reports and policy briefs on the illicit natural resource trade and resource-backed loans in the six participating countries.

The diagnostic reviews will inform customized training programs for 150 beneficiaries: 25 selected policy officials in each of the six countries. Peer learning and knowledge exchange will be facilitated through a virtual knowledge hub.

The GONAT workshop began on 23 February.

Click here to learn out more about the GONAT project, Click here to register for Day 2 of the Workshop.